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07/11/2017 – Ephemeris – Altair the nearest star of the Summer Triangle

July 11, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:59 this evening.

The southernmost star of the Summer Triangle is Altair, high in the east-southeast. The other two stars of the triangle are Vega nearly overhead in the east, and Deneb high in the east-northeast. Altair is the closest of the three at a distance of 16.7 light years away. One light year is nearly 6 trillion miles. Altair is 10 times the brightness of the Sun. If seen at Altair’s distance, the Sun would only be as bright as one of the two stars that flank it. What is rather different about Altair is its rapid rotation. While it’s almost twice the sun’s diameter, it rotates once in about 9 hours, The CHARA Interferometer at Mt. Wilson has actually imaged its squashed disk in the infrared. Our sun’s a slow poke, taking nearly a month to rotate once.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

Oblate Altair

False-color image of the rapidly rotating star Altair, made with the MIRC imager on the CHARA array on Mt. Wilson. Credit: Ming Zhao, University of Michigan

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